The Kia Picanto bucks the trend that cars grow larger with every new generation. Customer research shows minicar buyers don’t want bigger cars, Kia says. They do, however, want a roomy interior, along with advanced safety and comfort equipment. Therefore, Kia increased the Picanto’s cabin space by giving the car a 15mm longer wheelbase and making it 5mm taller, while keeping it the same overall length and width.
The Picanto now has autonomous emergency braking as an option on higher spec models. Trunk capacity has grown 55 liters to 255 liters, which Kia says is larger than several rivals. The space increases to 1,010 liters with the rear seats folded.
Kia has also done a lot to improve the third-generation Picanto's ride and handling. Its new H platform means the car is more robust with the amount of high-strength steel used in the body construction doubled to 44 percent. It is also 23 kg lighter. Torque vectoring is standard equipment. It detects when the car is drifting off course in corners and brakes the inside rear wheel if the front of the car is running wide, or the outer rear wheel if the rear tires are starting to slide outward.
The Picanto's ride and handling also benefit from a lower center of gravity and measures to reduce cornering roll, while the longer wheelbase and a shorter front overhang improve agility and shift the weight balance slightly rearward. Kia engineers re-packaged the mechanical components to lower the Picanto's center of gravity, which further boosts responsiveness. The Picanto will be available only as a five-door model, with the three-door version dropped because customers want easy access to the rear seats and are opting for five doors instead of three. The Picanto gets a GT-Line model with sporty trim features for the first time.
LMC Automotive forecasts European minicar sales to remain flat at about 1.23 million units until 2020 as buyers switch to small crossovers. Despite flat sales, Kia said the sector is still big business for the brand. The Picanto now offers buyers greater potential for customization with 11 exterior paint colors and a range of interior color packs to choose from.